What Does Cyberpunk Mean?

Cyberpunk is a science fiction genre in which the future world is portrayed as one in which society is largely controlled by computers, at the expense of daily life and social order. Literature, movies and video games of this genre point to a fear that the world may eventually be run solely by computers, including unusual scenarios where nonliving forms take on life-like actions and capabilities. Rebellion against large corporations and established organizations is a key aspect of cyberpunk. As such, main characters are often portrayed as alienated and marginalized by society.


Cyberpunk portrays a rapid deterioration of societal norms due to an inevitable shift toward the all-out use of computers, so much so that the lines between actual human beings and computers become blurred. Big corporations are often thrown into the mix as the culprit and the host for the dystopia that is cyberpunk.

Techopedia Explains Cyberpunk

The term cyberpunk was coined by Bruce Bethke in 1983 through the title of his story “Cyberpunk.” The term combines “cybernetics” and “punk.”

Cyberpunk settings are typically focused in the not-so-distant future in a setting of societal breakdown where computers are allowed to control everything. This is essentially a technology-gone-wild scenario. Over time, cyberpunk has attracted a cult-like following worldwide. Certain types of clothing fashions have even surfaced to reflect the cyberpunk genre. And while it may have had its glory days in the ’80s, many believe that cyberpunk is here to stay. If nothing else, the cyberpunk movement includes a lot imagination along with a sprinkle of reasonable pessimism and fear about the repercussions of computer technology.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…